7 Reasons Why Panama Should Be Your Next Destination
Looking to travel somewhere new? Panama has everything you’ve been looking for in a perfect vacation or study abroad trip!
1.Prices, Prices, Prices!
As a broke college student working a minimum wage job, I’m constantly on the lookout for affordable places that I can not only travel, but also experience without plummeting myself into lifelong debt. Thankfully, Panama is not only a cheap plane flight away, but it also has unbelievable prices for quality accommodation, food, and transportation. In fact, my plane flight from Panama was cheaper than it would have been to fly across the U.S. to visit my family on the West Coast! A fairly long taxi ride only cost us $5 and a night’s stay at a beautiful hostel in the city center, a little over $10. If you’re looking for an affordable destination, Panama is it.
2. Its Diversity
Known as the “Crossroads of the Americas,” because of its link between the North and South, Panama’s location and its unique history have made Panama diverse in a multitude of ways. Ethnically, linguistically, culturally, as well as geographically. It’s a place where you can eat a gourmet meal on a trendy rooftop bar as well as explore old ruins that date back over six hundred years on one day, and the next day, be surrounded by nothing but lush jungle as you make your way to some of the best unspoiled beaches in the world.
3. Up-and-Coming Cuisine
It absolutely shocks me that Panama is not more famous for its food! With things like hojaldras, corvina, empanadas, ropa vieja, sancocho, Panama has a plethora of amazing dishes that are as varied as the country itself. Panama not only excels at its own traditional meals, but also international cuisine. The best burger I’ve ever had in my entire life was actually at the Tántalo Kitchen in the Casco Viejo district of Panama City. When I say the best, I mean I don’t think I could ever eat another burger again because there’s just no way it could compare!
4. It’s Brimming With History
With a giant cosmopolitan capital and plans to expand the Panama Canal, Panama is increasingly becoming more modern. However, it has still managed to preserve its past with breathtaking architecture and old traditions. From Casco Viejo in Panama City, to tribes in the Darién Province, it is still possible to not only see what life was like in a former time for Panama, but also experience a culture whose traditions and ways of life have survived centuries.
Panama is a nature lover’s paradise. I’ve actually seen more wildlife here than in any other place I’ve traveled! While hiking Ancon Hill in Panama City, my boyfriend and I were able to spot numerous species of exotic birds, including three toucans, multiple capybaras, and three sloths. In fact, one sloth fell out of his tree and landed right in front of us! Thankfully he was ok and we were able to hang out with him for an hour. By hang out I mean take a thousand pictures while he ignored our existence completely but still, where else could this happen on a normal, everyday hike?
6. Friendly Locals
Panama not only boasts delicious food and incredible sights but also the friendliest locals around. No matter where we were in Panama, there were always nice people willing to help us out or show us a good time. I almost panicked when we arrived at a Panamanian border crossing from Costa Rica where proof of onward flight and five hundred dollars in your bank account is required to cross. It was two a.m., our phones were dead, and we had neither of those things on us. Thankfully, a local showed us the way to an internet cafe as well as translated for us. Without him or the easygoing bus driver that waited an extra thirty minutes for us, there’s no way we would have even made it to Panama in the first place!
7. The San Blas Islands
Growing up in Florida, I’ve seen some pretty amazing beaches. However, none can even compare to the beaches of San Blas! Composed of 365 islands off the Caribbean coast of Panama, the San Blas islands are truly a hidden treasure. With endless deserted islands filled with little more than coconut trees and hammocks, if you haven’t already considered moving to Panama multiple times throughout your trip, San Blas will seal the deal! Your old life will be long forgotten as you spend each day island hopping with the amazing locals that own the islands, feast on freshly caught fish, fruit bowls, and an ice cold beer for lunch, snorkel through a shipwreck, lounge in the sun all day with no responsibilities but to enjoy yourself, and camp under the stars every night. San Blas was without a doubt the highlight of my trip and one of the best kept secrets around.
These are the top 7 reasons I will be returning to Panama someday. What will yours be? Maybe it will be for the chance to experience a fusion of beautiful and authentic cultures that are so prevalent throughout the country. Or perhaps for the chance to find out what village life is truly like for the Emberá tribe with a local homestay. Or maybe it will be for the bliss that can only be found from sipping an ice cold pipa in beautiful Bocas del Toro. Whatever your reasons are for going, I promise Panama will not disappoint!